The surgical removal of the appendix is known as an appendectomy and is a fairly common form of emergency surgery. It is classed as an emergency surgery since the appendix is only ever removed in the event that a problem develops with it, such as appendicitis.
The human body is full of surprises. There are some parts of our body that appear to have no use at all, one of which is the appendix. This small, thin pouch is around 2 to 4 inches in length and is attached to our large intestine. No one knows exactly what the appendix is for, and our bodies can function just as well without it. Some studies have shown that it serves as an immune function, particularly in kids. Nevertheless, there is no need to remove it unless it becomes a problem, such as when a patient suffers from appendicitis.
Appendicitis is the name given to a condition characterized by the painful swelling of the appendix. The condition worsens fairly rapidly. You may start with abdominal pain that comes and goes in the middle part of your stomach. However, the pain usually travels to the lower right-hand side of your abdomen within a few hours, and then it becomes constant and severe. Other symptoms of appendicitis include nausea, constipation, vomiting and loss of appetite.
If you experience symptoms of appendicitis, you will almost certainly be recommended to have surgery. This is because in some cases, the appendix can become so inflamed that it bursts. If this happens, it can have life-threatening consequences.
An appendectomy is normally carried out laparoscopically whenever possible. This is because minimally invasive surgery carries fewer risks of complications from occurring and causes minimal scarring. It is also quicker than regular, open surgery.
Laparoscopic appendectomies are performed under a general anesthetic. Once you are asleep, our surgeon will make several small incisions into your abdomen. These are usually around 1-2 centimeters. Through these incisions, special instruments are inserted. These include a tube that pumps gas into your abdomen. This inflates it and makes it easier for the surgeon to see your appendix more clearly. Your appendix is viewed using a laparoscope. This is a long, thin tube with a light and camera at the end. The camera feeds back real-time images to screens in our operating room so that we can visualize your appendix and the surgery as it is being performed. Small surgical tools are then passed into other incisions to remove the appendix.
After the appendix has been removed, all of the incisions are closed and sealed using sutures. One of the biggest advantages of laparoscopically performed appendix removals is that patients have minimal post-operative discomfort, a low risk of complications and an expedited recovery. You can usually go home within 24 hours of your surgery and back to work within 10-14 days. However, it may take up to 6 weeks for you to be able to participate in any strenuous activities.
If you have any questions about appendix removal, our expert surgical team would be happy to answer them and provide any further information that you may need. Contact our office today to speak to us or to schedule an appointment.